Thanks to director Justin Lin, “Star Trek Beyond” is the most fierce in the 50-year history of the franchise. Lin combines the kind of full-speed-ahead action that he brought to the “Fast & Furious” franchise with a story that harkens back to the days when Gene Roddenberry was creating the show.
“Star Trek Beyond” picks up with the crew of the Enterprise a little more than halfway through their five-year mission. A sort of malaise has set in as the search for strange new worlds has become a bit mundane.
Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) has become so bored he’s applied for a new job at a massive space station the Federation has constructed. Before he can get word on his promotion, an alien arrives seeking help for her shipmates who are stranded at the edge of the known galaxy.
Fourteen years after the first “Ice Age” animated film was a hit, the fifth installment in the franchise, “Ice Age: Collision Course,” rolls into theaters. Is it inevitable? Yes, 2012’s “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” was the highest grossing animated film that year. Is it necessary? Absolutely not. “Collision Course” is simply a perfunctory, watered-down entry in the series that feels like it should have been released on home video.
In this world of ancient animals — wooly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, flying dino-birds — facing apocalyptic, era-shifting, asteroid-borne problems, it feels profoundly odd that the emotional stakes of the film are centered around the wedding of Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie’s (Queen Latifah) daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). Not to get too nit-picky about a fantastical film for children where a group of animals blow up a bunch of crystals in a volcano to set an asteroid off course, but the concept of marriage is decidedly anachronistic here. Also, they’re animals. When anything’s possible, centering a story around something as mundanely heteronormative as a wedding feels wildly unimaginative.
David F. Sandberg’s excellent horror flick “Lights Out” is a film about common fears and universal phobias; about things that go bump in the night, and exist only in the dark. Built on a clever premise, the film is executed seamlessly. It’s the best expression of a low-budget horror flick: resourceful and smart, where the most charismatic character is the ghoul itself. At a lightning quick 81 minutes, Sandberg creates a thoughtful and very scary world in “Lights Out,” a spooky tale about what happens when the demons in your head come out to play.
Teresa Palmer is Rebecca, a gorgeous, if quick-tempered, goth chick with commitment issues. The one person to whom she is devoted is her baby brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), who has been left to contend with their mercurial mother, Sophie (Maria Bello) in the wake of his father’s (Billy Burke) violent death. This spare film cuts right to the chase to maximize prime scares: mom’s got a ghostly friend, Diana, from her days as a teen mental patient, and Diana is a very jealous, very possessive presence. Meddlers in the relationship are dealt with in painful, terrifying ways.
Much of the conversation around the gender-swapped remake of “Ghostbusters” has been protests from (mostly) male fans of the original, who don’t want to see women in the roles popularized by Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson in the 1984 original. But what’s the fun in re-creating a direct facsimile of a piece of art or entertainment? This version, directed by Paul Feig, written with Katie Dippold, starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, proves to be a fun and fresh way to reboot the franchise.
The beloved original “Ghostbusters” was a cultural phenomenon, and nothing will retroactively change that. But the “Ghostbusters” that 2016 demands is not the one from 1984. All the predatory leering, sensual dream ghosts and weirdly sexy ghost possession would go over about as well as a Bill Cosby joke this year, and the gender-flip is the exact right way — the only way — to reboot “Ghostbusters.” Happily, Feig and team easily pull it off. The film is legitimately hilarious, spooky and manages to capture the irreverent fun of the original.
“Breaking Bad” was the turning point of Bryan Cranston’s career, the moment when he went from goofy “Malcolm in the Middle” sitcom dad to masculine antihero emblematic of the “Golden Age of TV.” It’s the mid-life crisis of suburban sitcom dads who find out that they really like being bad. It’s a role that will most likely define Cranston for the rest of his career, and in his latest film, “The Infiltrator,” it’s impossible to not see his performance through the lens of Walter White.
“The Infiltrator” is the tale of two Bobs: Mazur and Musella. It’s a true story, based on the book by Robert Mazur, a U.S. customs special agent who went undercover in the 1980s to expose big banks working in collusion with Colombian drug cartels to launder money. Cranston plays both Bobs — Mazur is a modest Miami dad with a wife (Juliet Aubrey) and two kids, and Musella is a flashy mob money launderer with a young, glamorous blonde fiancee (Diane Kruger) draped in fur and jewels.
Any pet owner who’s imbued their furry or feathered friends with deep thoughts and mysterious intentions will relate to the imagination behind “The Secret Life of Pets.”
It may not have the emotional resonance of a Pixar movie, but with its playful premise, endearing performances and outstanding score by Alexandre Desplat, “Pets” is fun, family (and animal)-friendly fare.
Although the premise is spelled out right there in the title, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” makes very little sense. That’s despite it being (shockingly) based on a book. Well, a “book,” written by brothers Mike and Dave Stangle as an obligatory cash-in on their viral Craigslist ad.
Sex comedies shouldn’t necessarily resemble real life, but the film doesn’t even convincingly craft its own internal reality in this story about a pair of rowdy brothers who end up with an even rowdier pair of dates to their sister’s wedding. There are no rules or character motivations, words come out of Zac Efron’s mouth when it isn’t moving, and Anna Kendrick’s wig changes color at random.
There’s a secret about children that Steven Spielberg, Melissa Mathison and Roald Dahl have always known — that no matter how innocent, kids are as capable of understanding darkness as adults, and sometimes even more so. It’s not that it’s some completely unacknowledged truth, but it is one that rarely seems to permeate what we consider “children’s entertainment” in any real way. It just makes adults too uncomfortable. It’s also the reason why the under-10 set flocks to Dahl.
A measured embrace of the deep menace in Dahl’s words is why this long-time-coming adaptation of his 1982 book “The BFG ” not only succeeds, but shines. It’s not just some pleasant romp into the world of giants. It’s an honest-to-goodness, gut punch of a journey, crackling with heart, uncertainty, and overflowing with all-out wonder.
One of the exciting things about seeing trailers for “The Legend of Tarzan” was how much of an update it looked like compared to past efforts over the last 40 years. No mostly naked Bo Derek sitting around with chimpanzees, telling Tarzan she’s a virgin while eating a banana. No Andie MacDowell having her voice dubbed because it sounded too Southern. No Rosie O’Donnell voicing an animated gorilla with a New York accent.
This was supposed to be a modern Tarzan, with quality actors with appropriate accents, CGI finally making the apes terrifying, and a well-constructed, original story that manages to pay enough tribute to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs books.
“The Purge,” 2013’s low-budget home invasion horror hit, found its breakout star in The Purge itself: an annual 12 hour bloodbath of government-sanctioned mayhem. In this dystopian near-future, the New Founding Fathers of America have instituted the contained lawlessness in order to keep crime and the population in check. The 2014 sequel, “The Purge: Anarchy,” liberated audiences from the confines of a single home and let loose into the streets of murderous chaos.
That film’s breakout star, the brooding Frank Grillo, an American version of a taciturn Jason Statham tough guy type, is a Purge angel of sorts. His character, Leo, is back in “The Purge: Election Year,” which is the biggest, baddest, berserkest Purge so far. Writer/director James DeMonaco has written and directed all three films, maintaining a consistency of tone and style, including bits of humor and cartoonish weirdness among the grim, dark and terrifying possibilities.
In Pixar’s hands, the ocean — equal parts danger and wonder — is a vast metaphor for the choppy waters of parenting. Cloistered coral reefs of home are surrounded by frightful drop-offs and strong currents that can sweep a little fish out to an immense sea. When the difference between survival and shark bait is flipper-thin, how much line do parents give before reeling in?
“Finding Dory,” a sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” shifts the tale from Nemo, the clownfish with a weak fin, to Dory, the blue tang with short term memory loss — or as the baby Dory seen early in the film says, “remembery loss.”
The arithmetic of comedy is not that difficult.
If you produce logically linked laughs every five minutes in a feature film you have created a classic.
Some people just like to cry at the movies. If you are one of those people — if you have for example actually committed to watching “The Fault in Our Stars” or “The Notebook” more than once, either endeavor an act of incomprehensible madness — then chances are you will enjoy “Me Before You.” And you will undoubtedly get a bit teary.
“Me Before You” has been adapted for the screen by Jojo Moyes (“One Plus One,” “The Girl You Left Behind” and “Me Before You’s” sequel, “After You”) from her bestselling novel, and so the screenplay is faithful to the source material, with necessary omissions. Love stories are Moyes’ milieu, but this one comes with a bite. Despite the amusing bits (and there are many), despite the budding ardor (predictable and crowd-pleasing), despite the rarely seen and irresistible smile of Emilia Clarke (who is not allowed moments of levity as the formidable Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, on “Game of Thrones”), “Me Before You” is a juicy, ripe red apple of a romance with a razor blade embedded under its skin.
The plotline of the music mockumentary “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” by the sketch comedy group The Lonely Island, is a journey that could be extrapolated onto the story of The Lonely Island themselves. Hired by “Saturday Night Live” for their hilarious music videos, Andy Samberg proved to be the breakout star, like his character Connor4Real in “Popstar,” while Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer found success behind the camera as writers and directors (and sometime performers). One has to imagine if “Popstar” is their reckoning with group vs. individual stardom.
The trio share writing and producing duties, while Taccone and Schaffer take on directing the film in which Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer co-star as the Beastie Boys-esque rap group the Style Boyz. When Connor’s stardom takes off as a Justin Bieber-type bad boy pop star, the group fizzles, and “Never Stop Never Stopping” (a reference to Bieber’s own documentary “Never Say Never”) follows the peak of his success and ultimate downfall.
It’s a bit of bad timing for “X-Men: Apocalypse” coming third in this summer’s superhero lineup.
Director Bryan Singer invigorates his latest X-Men film with vintage 1980s charm in an origin story about how the mutant supergroup unites and divides in response to the villain Apocalypse. And while battles between heroes are an X-Men tradition, warring among the ranks has become a superhero trope this season, at play in both “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Captain America: Civil War.”
“Alice Through the Looking Glass,” like its predecessor, owes very little to Lewis Carroll.
Textual adherence is somewhat beside the point when serving as a sequel to something that also cherry picked. But, lest you think that a six-year gap and the absence of Tim Burton in the director’s chair might have allowed for a return to the gleeful absurdity of Carroll, it doesn’t.
Ah, summer! The time of year is almost upon us when the days are long, the kids are out of school and cinemas are packed with original, artful films unlike any you’ve seen before.
OK, that last part isn’t really true. Sequels, remakes and superheroes are a year-round business for the movie industry, but they’re particularly abundant during the summer months, because that’s when movie-going attendance is at its highest.
It’s hard not to have a few biases going into “The Angry Birds Movie.” In the most cynical view of what gets made in Hollywood, an addictive app might just be at the bottom of the pile, languishing there in suspicious squalor with movies adapted from board games and amusement park rides.
Comic books get away with the “it’s really about characters” justification. Even some video games have an essential story behind them. A puzzle game, though? You can’t even pretend.
Shane Black put together what has become a major template in the buddy cop genre as the writer of “Lethal Weapon.” His design mostly depends on giving his characters snappy dialogue and letting that play out the action against a background that is slightly askew.
He uses that formula as the writer/director of “The Nice Guys,” a buddy crime story set in 1977. A series of murders and a missing woman bring private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and strong arm specialist Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) together. Neither man is especially competent but together — and with some help from March’s young daughter — they just might save the day.
Two years ago, “Neighbors” writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, along with director Nicholas Stoller, reinvented the classic college party movie by pitting the frat guys against the young parents next door. It was a raunchy but sweet rumination on getting older and growing out of party mode, a refreshing take on the college movie formula. With “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” they’ve flipped the script, creating a feminist party classic that’s completely current and doesn’t skimp on any of the wild humor. It’s also even better than its predecessor.
Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons and Beanie Feldstein as the freshman founding members of Kappa Nu, the film takes on a real world issue that’s a legitimate problem on college campuses. Greek sorority houses aren’t allowed to host parties with alcohol, so the majority of college parties take place in the “boys rule” atmosphere of fraternities, often predatory environments with themes that are usually sexist and designed to get girls into skimpy outfits.
There’s always the possibility that the audience will lose interest in a movie where the plot is deeply entangled in money matters. But Director Jodie Foster cashes in on the superb work of George Clooney and Jack O’Connell to make sure there are never any monetary dull spots in “Money Monster.”
The performances by Clooney and O’Connell are money in the bank.